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Senator and the Titanic

Senator and the Titanic

GRHC - May 23rd, 2012

Senator William Alden Smith of Grand Rapids gained national recognition when he chaired the Senate subcommittee investigating the causes of the sinking of the Titanic.



William Alden Smith was one of the most well known citizens of Grand Rapids in the early 1900s. He was owner and publisher of the Grand Rapids Herald, and represented Michigan in the both the United States House of Representative and the Senate.

The sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912 brought national recognition to Senator Smith as he chaired a Senate subcommittee investigating the causes of the accident. The initial hearings began just four days after the tragedy. They were held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Every aspect of the hearings appeared in the newspapers. There was no shortage of criticism from Smith’s political opponents, or from the tabloid press in London, which resented any hint of blame. The final report, of 1,100 pages, was issued a little over a month later on May 28th.

During a talk in Grand Rapids, Senator Smith gave the Press newsboys some idea of the size of the great ship. “Imagine a building five stories higher that the Michigan Trust building and you have the height of the Titanic. Its length would run from the Press Building (at Fulton and Sheldon) to the Union Station (on Ionia at Oakes); it was as wide as Fulton Street Park (now Veterans Park).

Today, you can follow coverage of the Titanic hearings at the Public Library on microfilms of the Press and Herald for April and May of 1912.

Full Details

TitleSenator and the Titanic
KeywordsWYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; history; William Alden Smith; senator; Titanic
Pubdate StringMay 23rd, 2012

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